Kenshi Yonezu – the new Yojiro Noda?

It’s probably unfair to compare this young twenty-something with RADWIMPS’ frontman. After all, even though they looked somewhat similar, they do have some differences: RADWIMPS is more rock-inclined; Kenshi Yonezu (米津玄師 YONEZU Kenshi) falls within the alternative rock-pop band. RADWIMPS started as a full-fledged band. Kenosha Yonezu started as a vocaloid artist under the moniker HACHI.

I didn’t pay a lot of attention to this gentleman who originally hails from Tokushima prefecture in the Shikoku islands when Flowerwall was released earlier this month. Or maybe the preview on iTunes and Recochoku didn’t do the song justice. I didn’t watch the MV.

But instead, I came across one of his older videos from his debut album DIORAMA. The video was a compilation of short preview tracks from DIORAMA (released in 2012), and the first song was called Machi (「街」street). It was that song that caught my full attention.

It wasn’t long before I started to sit up and listened to all his songs. I tried to sample his HACHI Vocaloid days, which I couldn’t swallow past the first 30 seconds. I couldn’t reconcile this difference. Can someone who started out as a Vocaloid artist-producer turn out to be this decent? Does he actually have talent?

I decided to take a chance and bought his two albums and his Flowerwall EP, and played them on loop. Yankee (2014) was the last album I decided on because I wasn’t sure if it was worth it – that is, until I heard Wooden Doll.

I’ve had these records for over a week now. His songs were my ear-worm for days on end. And this weekend, I realized that (1) his MVs were creative, making very clever use of animation and storyboarding. (2) his songs are GREAT for running, especially with Wooden Doll and Kubinashi Kankodori (「首なし閑古鳥」The Neckless Cuckoo). and (3) His music competes with the Pied Piper; it is alluring, addictive, and highly memorable. I wasn’t able to return back to my other artists – including RADWIMPS, amazarashi, EGOIST, Bump of Chicken – without returning to this guy after a very short while.

I guess the reason why I compared Kenshi Yonezu with Yojiro Noda is because the latter had first left his impression on me as a fresh artist who carried this self-assured guarantee that he would excel and soar in the industry. And now that he has, I can’t help but feel the same way for Yonezu, a name so unusual that took me two days to remember and get used to.

I’m still unable to comprehend his Vocaloid works from before, but I’m glad it’s over (somewhat) and that he’s moved on to new works that uses his real voice. Definitely someone worth paying attention to!

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